Opposing sides argue effectiveness of Lake Erie impairment designation

Lake Erie (WNWO/Marcus Espinoza)

The newest environmental buzzword in Toledo is impairment.

As in western Lake Erie should be designated as "impaired" by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Once we get impaired designation, that's when the real work starts," said Mike Ferner with Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie.

Toledo City Council voted 11-1 on Tuesday to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the western basin of Lake Erie Impaired.

But what does that status even mean?

"It means we're going to inventory the pollution, set limits and have an action plan. That's what was done in the Chesapeake Bay and it worked and we can make the same thing work here," said Ferner.

The lone vote against the resolution?

Toledo City Council member Tom Waniewski, who says this impairment status is going to cause more harm than good.

"In my opinion it would put on unnecessary burden, unfunded mandates onto the city itself, on the tax payers," said Waniewski.

He says the state and city are already doing enough to combat the algae issue in the lake.

"The state has the Lake Erie Water Commission, they have the Clean Water Act, they have the Great Lakes Water Act that has brought in Canada in this whole effort to work together," said Waniewski.

Ferner thinks the councilman has missed the mark.

"I just think he just didn't get it. Hopefully as we move along he'll see that this is a good way to go and (we) welcome his participation," said Ferner.

Ultimately, Waniewski thinks the state will decide against the designation.

"A resolution only carries so much weight and the state is pretty adamant about not declaring it impaired and in fact, I applaud them for what they've been doing," said Waniewski.

According to City of Toledo Clerk of Council Gerald Dendinger, the Resolution will now be sent to the U.S. EPA upon Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson's signature as well as the President, Governor, and the U.S. and State Senators and Representatives that represent Toledo.

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